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Friday, May 25, 2012

repeat after me: it's all OK

Last night was one of those completely chaotic new family of four nights in my house. 
I was flying solo for dinner and bed routine without my husband so it was two babies against one momma here tonight. It went something like this:

4:50 p.m. Son melting down throwing toys, whining that he wanted some milk, and baby staring at me sucking on her pacifier hoping like it was going to magically turn into my boob.

5 p.m. Son running around the house saying "eat time ma! eat!" and baby in her swing now screaming, pacifier on her chest. I attempt to start dinner, put a pot of water on the stove and cover it praying it'll boil quickly so I can fix my son some pasta with tomato sauce, and apple sauce on the side - his favorite.

5:05 p.m. Baby now in my arms, her only happy place this time of night. Son in his chair with a bowl of Cheerios in front of him, big smile on his face. Turn off the pasta, stupid idea anyway, I mean, who actually is able to cook dinner with two kids in the house?! Baby screaming to the point of turning very red, possible real tears in her eyes this time. Me, feeling totally guilty giving my son cereal for dinner, as if he's my former pregnant self not able to stomach eating anything else. I sigh, see he's happy, vow to give him some fresh fruit in the morning, and pick up the baby and bounce her over my shoulder... where she proceeds to spit up all down my back.

5:15 p.m. Cheerios all over the floor (didn't even see him toss them, no idea how I missed it but I did). I attempt to pump milk because I haven't emptied the girls in 4 hours and I'm about to burst. While I'm pumping my son is yelling at the table, doing anything he can to get my attention and my daughter is again screaming her head off in the swing as if saying, "MOM PLEASE, I'm over here, you know, the one who you pay attention to all day long when it's quiet here and we have this good thing going on until my brother shows up?!" Insert more guilt, not being there for two kids now.

5:20 p.m. Start bath tub for my son. Move the baby seat into the bathroom in hopes that the baby will actually sit there while I give my son some attention. Clean up my son's face full of Cheerios, get him undressed and into the tub with the baby in her seat, whining and whimpering and spitting out her pacifier because it's not what she wants.

5:25 p.m. Son in the tub, baby crying because it's too bright and loud and she wants to be held. I pour shampoo into my son's hair, barely acknowledging what he's saying as he's trying to play and I'm trying to stay sane while the baby is needing me and my son is needing me and I'm needing a nap and a drink and a shower and who knows what else at this moment. Feeling very frustrated, like I have no idea how I can ever do this two kids thing, wondering if it would be OK if I start crying at this moment like my daughter is doing.

5:30 p.m. My poor son walks up the stairs naked because his towel is too big to walk with it around him and I can't hold the towel up around him while he walks because I have the baby in my arms this time. Feeling guilty that I'm not able to do things with my son like I did before, and yet feeling guilty that I'm not being a great mom to my newborn either and giving her what she needs because I have to take care of my son.All the while I smell like spit up and have a Cheerio stuck to my foot and my stomach is grumbling because I have not eaten in hours.

5:45 p.m. Son is dressed and baby is attempting to calm down after having screamed the entire time I was dressing my son. Baby is wrapped in my arms while I sit in the rocking chair shushing her and bouncing her profusely to help her calm down and fall asleep, which is all I know she wants to do. Son is sitting on the edge of my legs in front of my daughter, holding onto me while holding his blankie and the book he wants us to read together. How on earth I have these two sitting on my lap this way is beyond me. And yet then it makes me smile because this is how we did it for 9 (10) months of pregnancy anyway, with her in front and my son out a little farther as the months and the belly grew by. I wish my husband would walk in and take a picture of us, because for some crazy reason I can't explain I do want to remember this moment, this terrible, horrible no good, very bad evening.

I begin reading Goodnight Moon for the hundredth time this year and my son smiles with delight as he finds the things we like to find in the book - Can you show me the mouse? How about the fire place? Where are the socks and mittens? Do you see the bunny rabbit? The baby starts crying again and my son smiles back at her and says, "It's OK, baby, it's OK, no cry, see moon baby, see moon." And I want to cry again. But this time it's because I know all is sweet in my world, despite that I feel like sometimes I'm sinking fast. It is OK, no cry, like my smart two-year-old said.

5:55 p.m. Baby starts screaming again as I set her down so I can snuggle my son for one second. I somehow manage to get him into his bed and tell him about 10 times how much I think he is such a good big brother and so helpful to me and how proud I am of him dealing OK tonight through the baby's cries. I tell him I love him and that I'll give him some treat tomorrow just for being such a good sport. He smiles and says "yeah, Ma." And I think to myself, wow, he's NOT traumatized by this shift in our lives, this monumental change that came busting into our world at only 7 lbs 14 oz. He's adjusting, and he's doing just fine.

The night continued with dishes and washing bottles and sweeping up Cheerios off the kitchen floor. It continued with two marathon nursing sessions and a bath time - aka attempt to settle down the newborn - and pajamas and cleaning up the diapers on the floor and putting away laundry and starting more laundry in the washer and packing milk for school tomorrow and picking up the toys in the living room and pumping again and and and and...

I checked in on my son, fast asleep, wrapped in his blankie, making that sucking movement with his mouth and tongue that he's done since he was a newborn, spanning almost the entire length of the crib. And I thought, how did you grow up? How did we do this with you? How are we doing this now with two of you? How are you coping through this chaotic mess? I teared up, thinking that yes, he's doing OK, we are all doing OK. Afterall, it's a crazy beautiful life that we're living and it's OK that it's insane at times. It's what makes it worth doing and what makes the great moments that much sweeter.

At the end of the night I might have spit up down my nursing tank top and I may have eaten leftover mac n' cheese and watermelon from 5 nights ago because I was too exhausted to even think up something to make for myself, but really and truly things are all good. I have a sleeping toddler in his crib, wrapped up in his blankie, as if to show me he's still my baby and he's still OK. I have a sleeping newborn - finally! - who looks like a precious angel and who makes my heart skip a beat just thinking of how amazing it is that she's here and she's ours and perfect. I have a husband who worked so hard at his job and is such a great dad. And yes, my house is a disaster at this moment and I think my cell phone rang four times but right now I can't even find it let alone bother to worry who it was that called me. Yes, I'm about to collapse from exhaustion and I know for sure that tonight I won't be getting my only alone and sacred time - a shower - because I'm too damn tired to stand up straight.

But really, it's OK. There's some sort of beauty in the chaos. 
It's crazy for sure. I am fully admitting this is the overwhelming stage that I'm in as a new mom to two. It's making me feel like I suck at this parenting thing sometimes. It's making me question how the hell we think we could ever have another one someday. And yet, I'm realizing it's all OK. It's just OK. You get through it. You put one kid down and ignore the screaming just for a minute so you can focus on the other one who needs you more right then. You accept that you can't be everything to everyone at the same time, that somebody has to wait, even if oftentimes that somebody is you doing the waiting. You realize that this too shall pass and it's just a phase and it will get better. You realize you can push through the exhaustion and lack of sleep, somehow you can function despite the dark circles under your eyes looking like you have been punched in the face. You just do it. You do it all because you have to. They depend on you to keep it together. So you do. And really, it ends up far more than OK.

I know I have many more evenings ahead of me just like this one. 
I know I'm going to be covered in pee and dinner and spit up breastmilk for quite some time to come. I know that I will have to continue to choose which child needs me more in any given moment and that it's going to suck every single time and that I will forever feel some guilt that I'm not doing or being enough to one of them. I know that I won't ever be a perfect mother because quite frankly they don't exist. I accept this because I know it to be truth and reality and overall to be OK.

And still, I know it's a crazy beautiful life. It's nothing I'd trade, ever, not for a second. It's something I'm grateful for. And yet it's OK to have a moment where I wish I was the one taking a bath tub or sprawling out in my crib or laying against someone's chest as I fall asleep. It's OK to count the seconds until bed time, even if that bed time is something I dread at the same time.

It's all OK. We can do this. That's what it comes down to. We can do this.
Afterall it is a crazy beautiful life, right? Who wouldn't want a little crazy in exchange for a whole lot of beautiful?

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